Move to increase remedies for personal grievances

A recent case has given ammunition to those seeking more realistic compensatory awards in the employment institutions. Until now, compensatory awards for hurt and humiliation for employees bringing successful personal grievances have commonly been between $5,000 and $7,000. Costs awards are normally far lower than the actual costs incurred, so the likelihood is that the employee will be out of pocket. Agreeing that the levels of compensation had... Read More

Employment Court considers issues relating to contributory conduct

The Employment Court has considered — but not resolved — two interesting and important issues relating to the effect on remedies of blameworthy conduct The first issue was whether a 100% reduction in remedies was in fact permitted by s 124 of the Act (reducing the remedy due to contributing behaviour by the employee).  Chief Judge Colgan considered that there was a “respectable argument” that it was not, but he thought the matter needed... Read More

Compliance order made to compensate for effects of unlawful preference

The Employment Court agreed with the Authority in penalising the misleading and deceptive actions of a charitable trust that misled the unions it was bargaining with so that they believed government funding constrained it from agreeing to a greater increase in wages. It also agreed that the trust had conferred an unlawful preference upon non-union employees by giving them an increase backdated beyond that given to union members. Where the Court went... Read More

Major Decision: Authority’s non-publication order was challengeable … and plaintiff entitled to one

The barrier to challenging Authority determinations on procedure (section 179(5) of the Employment Relations Act 2000) continues to present problems. Notwithstanding the Act’s objective of allowing the Authority a clear run in its investigations unimpeded by challenges, there is no avoiding the fact that “procedural” is not synonymous with “minor” or “technical”.  Nowhere is this more stark than on occasions in which the Authority has... Read More

MAJOR DECISION: Christmas holidays can be excluded from 28-day period for challenging an ERA determination

The likelihood for confusion to occur over when the 28 days for filing a challenge to an Employment Relations Authority determination expires has been much reduced by a recent decision of the Employment Court. In making its decision, the Court refused to follow the earlier decision of the Court in Vice-Chancellor of Lincoln University v Stewart. Difficulties have arisen in situations in which the Authority has made its determination late in the year.... Read More

What is the Employment Relations Authority?

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) is a more formal step to resolving an employment dispute or personal grievance if mediation doesn’t work. The ERA is an independent body set up to investigate workplace disputes. 

Both employers and employees can lodge an application in the ERA, the filing fee currently costs $71.56. Once an application has been lodged with the ERA there will be an investigation meeting where both sides can put forward... Read More

Fact that cleaning was (possibly) a component of work did not put council employees in the “vulnerable” category

The Employment Court has decided that five categories of council worker working in public parks did not provide cleaning services, a finding that deprived employees belonging to those categories of the right-to-transfer protections accorded to so-called “vulnerable” employees. None of the categories of park worker included the name “cleaner”. It was argued, however, that all were required to pick up litter before performing their various... Read More

Section 103A (would/could distinction) and reinstatement provision analysed by Employment Court

The Employment Court has lost no time in giving guidance on the implications of the recent changes to the test of justification for dismissal or disadvantage and to the reinstatement provision. The personal grievance cases in which these questions arose (Angus v Ports of Auckland Limited and McKean v Ports of Auckland Limited) will be decided by single judges in due course, but a full court of the Employment Court handed down an interlocutory... Read More

New test of justification considered by the Authority

For the first time, the new test to be used by the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court when considering whether an employer’s actions were justified has been considered by the Authority. In Sigglekow v Waikato District Health Board [2011] NZERA Auckland 384, Authority Member Rachel Larmer, said: I consider the new test means that both process and substance issues are to be assessed in light of whether a fair and reasonable employer... Read More